Lavender Country was an American country music band formed in 1972, whose self-titled 1973 album is the first known gay-themed album in country music history. Based in Seattle, Washington, the band consisted of lead singer and guitarist Patrick Haggerty, keyboardist Michael Carr, singer and fiddler Eve Morris and guitarist Robert Hammerstrom (the only heterosexual member).
Haggerty was born on September 27, 1944 and raised on a dairy farm near Port Angeles, Washington. After college he joined the Peace Corps, but was discharged in 1966 for being gay. He later became an artist and an activist with the local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front after moving to Seattle to pursue graduate studies at the University of Washington.
The 1973 album was funded and released by Gay Community Social Services of Seattle, with funding and production assistance from activist Faygele Ben-Miriam. Just 1,000 copies of the album were pressed at the time of its original release. The band performed at the first Seattle Pride event in 1974, and performed at numerous pride and other LGBT events throughout Washington, Oregon and California until their dissolution in 1976. Shan Ottey, a DJ for Seattle radio station KRAB, played the band’s song “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” on the air in 1973, resulting in Ottey’s dismissal from the station.
After disbanding Lavender Country in 1976, Haggerty ran two unsuccessful campaigns for political office, once for Seattle City Council and once as an independent candidate for a seat in the Washington House of Representatives, and continued to work as a gay rights and anti-racism activist.
In 2000, the Journal of Country Music published an article on gay country musicians, focusing in large part on Haggerty and Lavender Country. As a result of the renewed attention, the album was rereleased on CD in December 1999, and in 2000 the band released a five-song EP, Lavender Country Revisited, which featured three rerecordings of songs from the original album and two new songs. The band reunited briefly in 2000, performing the album in its entirety at Seattle’s Broadway Performance Hall in January 2000, and at that year’s Seattle Pride. In addition, the album was archived at the Country Music Hall of Fame by former Journal of Country Music editor Chris Dickinson.
Their song “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” was included in the 2012 compilation album Strong Love: Songs of Gay Liberation 1972–1981. The 1973 album was rereleased on independent label Paradise of Bachelors in 2014, and the band have played several reunion shows in 2014 to support the reissue.
Haggerty recorded a story for StoryCorps about coming out to his father in 1959, which was adapted into the animated short film The Saint of Dry Creek in 2015. In 2016, director Dan Taberski directed a short film titled These C*cksucking Tears which starred Haggerty and told the story of his life and career.